Rand Strengthens Second Week as Bernanke Quells Stimulus Concern

July 19 (Bloomberg) -- The rand strengthened, advancing for a second week, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke quelled concern that a reduction of U.S. stimulus was imminent.

Bernanke said yesterday it was “way too early to make any judgment” about starting tapering in September. On July 17, he said the central bank’s quantitative easing is “by no means on a preset course.” Bond purchases by the Fed and other developed-nation central banks helped boost demand for high-yielding assets including South African stocks and bonds, supporting the rand.

“Quantitative easing in some form or another is going to be with us at least for the rest of the year,” Mohammed Nalla, head of strategic research at Nedbank Group Ltd. in Johannesburg, said by phone. “The market is paring back its expectations” of a reduction in Fed asset purchases, he said.

The rand appreciated 0.7 percent to 9.8598 per dollar as of 7:53 p.m. in Johannesburg, bringing its advance this week to 1.2 percent. Yields on benchmark 10.5 percent bonds due December 2026 rose two basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, to 7.86 percent for a decline of 14 basis points in the past five days.

South Africa’s central bank left its repurchase rate at 5 percent for a sixth meeting yesterday to help stimulate growth in the continent’s biggest economy, which has been buffeted by slowing demand for the nation’s exports.

The bank won’t automatically raise rates if inflation quickens, Governor Gill Marcus said. Central banks in Brazil and India have raised rates in recent weeks after their currencies weakened.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Brand in Cape Town at rbrand9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at vwessels@bloomberg.net